Dear Families, 

As we near the start of the school year, I know all-virtual instruction will be challenging for many of our families. I want you to know we are here to support you, and you are not alone. We have a strong team preparing for virtual learning, while working to ensure students have technology devices, internet access, nutritious meals, and mental health support.  Over the next few weeks, our team will be providing important information which will answer more of your questions as we begin the 2020/2021 school year.

Next week, in preparation for the start of school, our staff will kick off nine days of professional learning. This time will be dedicated to developing and strengthening the critical knowledge and skills needed to provide all students with a positive, rigorous virtual learning experience, which is grounded in anti-racist principles. 

Regardless of whether we are learning virtually or in-person in our buildings, our focus will remain on our amazing students. Over the next few weeks, we will continue to share finalized logistical details with you. In the meantime, I would like to take the opportunity to shine a light on some of our extraordinary students and the amazing staff who support them.   

While we highlight just a few of these inspiring students in this newsletter, I know they represent thousands of others in the #MMSDFamily. This is what our district is about, and I am happy and proud to be here, back home in Madison. 


Carlton D. Jenkins, Ph.D.

Hamilton student wins Google contest

Congratulations to Ocean Beutter, a rising eighth grade student at Velma Hamilton Middle, and the Wisconsin winner of the 2020 Doodle for Google contest! 

The prompt for this year's contest was 'I show kindness by...', and entries were submitted in the spring. Here is how Ocean describes her winning entry, titled 'Not Only Ours': "I show kindness by returning the favor to animals, who lend us their home: Earth. Soon I'll be hitting my four-year mark of becoming vegetarian. My drawing aims to portray the beautiful relationships with animals we could have. I hope my doodle will shout a wake up to the world that animals deserve a happy life, just like us."

Ocean's drawing is one of 54 doodles that will advance to the next round, in which five national finalists will be chosen. You can help Ocean become one of the five finalists!

You can vote for Ocean's doodle through midnight tonight (scroll to the bottom of the 'Grades 6-7' category)!

West student featured in International Youth Day campaign video

Last week, International Youth Day was celebrated across the globe. Here in Madison, our very own West High School student, Maka Chikowero, was honored by UN Women for her work to empower girls from marginalized communities through her own non-profit organization, MTC Educate A Girl Inc. UN Women featured Maka in their International Youth Day campaign and in their video "These 20 young activists will inspire you to join the fight".
Maka's organization (MTC Educate A Girl Inc.) is registered here in the US and in Zimbabwe and offers full scholarships for orphaned girls to stay in school and also sources sports equipment for rural girls to participate in sports, especially in those disciplines that are usually inaccessible to girls due to cultural biases. As Maka says, "Soccer, in particular, is considered a "boys" game in Zimbabwe. Today, my organization has a group of girls on full scholarship and an even larger group playing for my community-based soccer club, MTC Sirens Football Club in the same area. I have also sourced and donated soccer equipment for a few years!"
To learn more about MTC Educate A Girl Inc. or to support Maka's projects here in Madison and globally, visit their website or follow them on Twitter.

Leopold Art Teachers Complete Sculpture

Before schools shut down in March, students at Leopold Community School were on track to paint a new sculpture at the school. The sculpture, called 'Fiddlehead Fern Family', was fabricated by Michael Burns and commissioned by Madison Arts Commission's 'Art in Public Places' and was designed with the Fiddlehead fern in mind. Leopold Art Teachers Sonia Valle (left) and Candace Patterson (right) have been working hard to see the project through to completion. See additional photos.

Wisconsin Department of Health Decision-Making Tool

As the spread of COVID-19 continues, it's more important than ever that we all do our part to protect ourselves and our community. The Wisconsin Department of Health has created a decision-making tool to help individuals and families determine the safest way to engage in activities outside the home during the pandemic. Use this tool to ask yourself key questions to decide whether or not it's safe to leave the house. 

City of Madison Community Resources and Updates

Due to the challenges of COVID-19, many Madison families have concerns about child care, housing, food, internet access and more. In response, the City of Madison has posted a list of community organizations that can help. In the latest update from the City of Madison, you'll find a link to resources, a list of COVID-19 testing sites and news from Madison Public Library and Goodman Pool.

Interested in receiving COVID-related updates from the City of Madison? Sign up for email and/or text alerts.

Virtual College Exploration Events

The Wisconsin Association of College Admissions Counselors (WACAC) is hosting several opportunities from August 24-September 3 for Wisconsin seniors to connect with over 100 colleges and universities, hear from admissions counselors and gain important college knowledge. For more information and to register, visit this page.

In the news: Parents, social workers provide aid to MMSD families

"A team of Madison social workers and parents have been helping families in need throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, trying to make sure every family feels supported.
The (Madison West High Area) Collaborative started as a partnership between parents and social workers at Thoreau Elementary School and Cherokee Heights Middle School but quickly expanded to include all the schools that feed into Madison West High School.
Every week, volunteers pack and deliver groceries to about 375 families. At its peak, the group delivered to nearly 500 families. The group gets much of the food at little to no cost from Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin. They also buy some of the produce from FoodChain, which helps connect with local farmers. The group is working to make sure their families have basic needs met. In addition to healthy food, the collaborative also delivers baby supplies like diapers and other toiletries including toilet paper and shampoo."
THIS is #MMSDfamily. The Collaborative is seeking volunteers! Learn how you can help.

2020 Census deadline is September 30

The deadline for completing the 2020 Census is September 30. Make sure you're counted! Fill it out online now at

In case you missed it

Student Device Exchange is going on now. Visit this page for details and a full schedule. Note that schools are still being added to the schedule.

Enrollment is 100% virtual this year and is going on now. If you need assistance, you can contact your school starting next week. View the MMSD School Year Calendar for specific dates and times that your school is available. Learn more about 2020-21 enrollment here

Need help paying for meals? We will be offering curbside meal service at 40 school sites starting the week of September 8, 2020. Learn more

School start and end times during virtual learning are different from normal school hours. Learn more.

How to contact your school: While we're virtual, we want to make sure you're still able to contact your school. There are currently four ways you can get in touch with your school. Find them here.

Previous family newsletters are archived on this page on our website.

From Public Health and the City of Madison: How to get help during COVID-19

These are extraordinary times. Due to the challenges of COVID-19, every Madison family needs a little extra support, and our community is stepping up to help. The City's "How To" series provides an online list of community resources that can help with everything from eviction to finding healthy food. You'll also find printable handouts on each topic. View the "How To" community resources pages here.

Supporting MMSD and MSCR families in crisis during COVID-19

Since March, the Foundation for Madison Public Schools has been raising emergency relief funds and collaborating with community partners to ensure our MMSD and MSCR students, families and staff have the resources and financial support to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. We need your support. Please join our efforts to help our families who are impacted the most by this health crisis with a gift to one or both of these funds. To learn more, visit this page.